A mother’s guidance is very crucial in the formative years of a person – from childhood to teens. In the story Go Ask the Dead, fifteen-year-old Mandy Mannon learned her lessons in life not from her biological mother but from her nanny Delia. Delia assumed Mandy’s mother and took care of her and imparted valuable teachings ever since Mandy was still a child. So, guidance to children doesn’t necessarily come from a biological mother as long as somebody can take the role of a guide to his or her children in the household.

In Mandy’s case, her biological mother wasn’t physically abusive to her but emotionally neglectful. Yet, Mandy didn’t give a big deal about her mother not being so caring because she has Delia who constantly guides and watches over her. After being threatened by her stepfather and losing him, Mandy transferred to her great-aunt’s home and her great-aunt Lavinia Mannon taught her conservative Christian teachings and fine manners. Though her great-aunt crossed the line for whipping her for being immodest at one point, Lavinia regretted doing that and asked for Mandy’s mercy. She also promised Mandy to give her the best education and even allowed her to take Delia in their home. What a blissful experience Mandy had when several people guided her and took care of her!

Through Mandy’s novella, one can derive the important deeds a mother can provide in guiding her children to the right path.

A mother teaches her children to believe in God and to lead a moral life. Children learn good values from home first and these values come from God. Such values involve respecting elders and peers, obeying the law, offering help toward others in need, and being satisfied with what they have and not being envious of others’ material possessions. If values and morality are not taught at home, where will the children get it from or who will they look up to? That is why antisocial behavior in children is usually attributed by a lack of moral teaching at home.

A mother teaches her children confidence and believes in themselves. Children need to grow whole, strong and mentally healthy and one way for a mother to enhance her children’s confidence is to claim it and polish their thinking. A positive self-confidence yields more achievement in children. But there may be a fine line between being self-confident and self-centered. A mother has to be very careful about raising self-centered children as such children are not only good for society but for their mental health as well.

A mother teaches her children the power of words. Words can make or break a person, so a mother should be careful in saying her words. Positive statements can build confidence and affirm a child’s dealing while negative expressions can destroy it and those may linger in a child’s mind forever. Saying either statements habitually will prompt the child to uphold your statements until he becomes an adult and by that time he will show them to others in subtle ways.

Finally, a mother has to select her style of teaching and nurturing her children. She may be permissive and authoritative but in general, she must avoid the extremes of permissiveness and authoritarianism. She must balance permission and authority as too much of either can result to her children being too irresponsible or being too fearful. A mother shouldn’t force her children to believe her morals and impose rigid rules as children will extract anxiety from her actions. Similarly, a mother should not be too. Being too flexible will make her children become too lazy and irresponsible. Therefore, a mother should maintain balance so that her children will trust her so much. A mixture of both involvement and control will help her children gain internal resources (values, morals, and self-confidence) they will need to thrive.

Remember: happy kids come from happy motherhood.

Photo by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash